Energy: a thorny issue for the EU summit

media briefing

Publication - March 19, 2014
Top billing at this week's EU summit (20 and 21 March) will go to the crisis unfolding in Ukraine. Beyond immediate security concerns, developments in Crimea are likely to focus the minds of EU leaders on the need to strengthen the EU’s energy security, and in particular its independence from Russia. This will be the backdrop for discussions on another thorny item: the EU’s climate and energy ambition after 2020. Decisions made at this summit and in the coming months on carbon cuts and renewable energy will have a major bearing on both global security and the chances of stopping runaway climate change.

The European Commission has proposed an EU target for a 27 per cent share of renewable energy by 2030. This share is barely above business-as-usual and would see growth in the renewables sector slashed from 6.7 per cent per year, between 2010 and 2020, to 1.6 per cent, between 2020 and 2030.

The heads of EU governments will debate the European Commission’s climate and energy policy proposals for 2030. The proposals include a binding target for the EU to cut domestic carbon emissions by 40 per cent by 2030 and an EU-wide target to increase the share of renewables in the energy system to at least 27 per cent by 2030, but do not recommend for this target to be broken down into legally binding targets for each EU country. The Commission has put the decision on an energy savings target on hold until a review of existing legislation later this year.

EU ministers have already discussed the proposals at Council meetings on 3 and 4 March and the Greek EU Presidency has summarised the results in a letter to Council President Herman Van Rompuy.

The 2030 package follows a trio of EU targets for 2020: a binding cut in carbon emissions of 20 per cent (compared to 1990 levels), a binding share of renewables of 20 per cent and a non-binding reduction in energy use of 20 per cent (compared to business-as-usual).

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